No. 554, November 6, 2006
Both studies and experience have convinced me that the human beings is hard-wired to find a home a place which generates safety, relaxation and the calm-and-relaxation hormone oxytocin. My seven year old daughter confirmed this recently.
We are in our car doing our weekly shopping, me and my two youngest children. We take turns choosing music during the 20 miles we drive in all. On the way home the choice is mine. I choose the South African jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim. My seven year old daughter has heard him before. She is strongly moved by a slow piece with emotional overtones where Ibrahim plays solo piano and also sings unusual for a jazz pianist. Now she wants to know what he is singing about.
The song is titled Cape Town. Ibrahim sings about his joy in returning home, presumably after a long exile during apartheid. The text expresses his love for Cape Town. First he sings about other cities: "Copenhagen bored me. Madrid was dark and cold. New York has its crowded streets, yet I hear no laughter." Then he describes Cape Town as "the frairest city of them all". He sings lyrically about the fragrant summer breeze, the old oak trees, the market and the taxis. Even if Cape Town is acclaimed for its beauty, it is clear that Ibrahim sings about the love for what is his home on earth. He promises never to go far away from home again.
My daughter wants to know more and I have to explain about apartheid and about Nelson Mandela who made South Africa a free country. "Then Abdullah Ibrahim could move home again and then maybe he was so happy that he wrote this song", I try to explain to my daughter.
I have lived in many different places. "Home" to me is more of an inner feeling than a geographical place. But my daughter has lived her entire life in our house in Storvreta outside Uppsala in Sweden.
My daughter now spontaneously tells me that she wants to write to Abdullah Ibrahim and tell him how much she loves Storvreta: the colza fields, the trees, the playgrounds and the local grocery store. I am amazed at her expression of love. I have never seen Storvreta that way. I tell my daughter that people often love the place they were raised. She understands.
Clearly my daughter is telling me about an inner feeling which has been touched by Ibrahim’s song and music. She has found and put words to the feeling "at home".
Whether our feeling of home is within us or in a geographical place, it is an important feeling to maintain. Home is the basis for relaxation and emotional safety.
Creative regards! Jonas Himmelstrand
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